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Tamiya 1/48 P-51D Mustang Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2010 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject P-51D Mustang Scale 1/48
Kit Number 92215 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons Standard Mustang bugs
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $34.95

First Look


North American's Mustang fighter was a huge success once the Allison engine of the early Mustangs was replaced by the license-built Packard Merlin. The P-51B/C Mustangs were a formidable threat to the Luftwaffe. Like most fighters of the early war, the P-51B/C had the standard hood design of the day which was more of a greenhouse type that was streamlined into the rear fuselage. Aerodynamically, this wasn't a bad thing, but combat experience with this type of cockpit enclosure revealed fatal rear visibility. The Americans, British, and Germans set to work on the problem.

North American addressed this visibility issue with the next version of the Mustang, the P-51D. The rear fuselage was cut down and the canopy enclosure replaced with a teardrop canopy. Additional improvements included the addition of two more 50 caliber machine guns, bringing up the total to six, additional fuel tanks, and a new gunsight.

The P-51D became the principal fighter for the US Army Air Force and could hold its own against the Luftwaffe until the advent of the next generation of Luftwaffe fighters including the Ta 152, Me 262, etc. Even then, the Mustangs (and other allied types) outnumbered what was left of the Luftwaffe and retained air superiority over the continent.

Tamiya has re-released their tried and true P-51D kit with new markings. The kit was originally released as kit 61040 (reviewed here), then Tamiya has added one new sprue for the aircraft, and a whole new vehicle kit in a special release ( reviewed here). This release provides the additional sprue from the previous special release though sans the staff car.

The P-51D kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clears. Molding is still crisp and the details nice.

The kit has a nicely detailed cockpit considering the number of pieces - six. The cockpit has the correct wooden floor that raised the pilot up into the bubble canopy for better all-round visibility. I've seen other Mustang kits with more parts in the cockpit, but as I said earlier, Tamiya has mastered the blend of detail and simplicity. An optional pilot figure is also included if you want to crew up your Mustang. If the level of detail isn't enough for you, Lord knows that there are lots of aftermarket sets available for this kit.

Wing panel lines are finely scribed, but other than the ammo bay doors, there shouldn't be any lines there at all. The P-51 featured a laminar flow wing which means that the wing surface was carefully filled and finished so that airflow was smooth over the wing. You should fill in most of the panel lines.

Main wheel wells are boxed-in as they are on just about every other Mustang kit out there. If you look at our photo walk arounds, you can see that the rear of the well is the main spar and this provides maintenance access to the hydraulics and wiring that run through the wings. There are some nice aftermarket resin wheel wells available now to fix this area.

The original kit had the following options:

  • Positionable canopy
  • Choice of standard or Dallas canopy
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable rear radiator flap
  • Choice of exhaust stacks
  • Optional 75 gallon metal drop tanks

This additional sprue adds the following:

  • Optional 108 gallon paper drop tanks
  • Optional second seated pilot (new pose)
  • Optional standing pilot figure

Markings are included for two 9th Air Force examples:

  • P-51D-5-NA, 44-13651, 356 FS/354 FG,AJ-T, 'Short-Fuse Sallee', as flown by Capt Richard Turner
  • P-51D-10-NA, 44-14059, 381 FS/363 FG, B3-Y, 'Skyczar', as flown by Capt Fred Munder

The Tamiya P-51 Mustangs are the easiest models to build and render the best results for the least effort. If you want to take a break from some of the more challenging projects 'out there', this is still one of the best kits available to just have fun and still achieve a master's result.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!